Fairy Tale, Stephen King’s latest, available now from Simon & Schuster Canada feels unique in his bibliography. It takes the concept of those long beloved tales of Grimm and Andersen and gives them his unique twist.
At its heart, the book seems to be an amalgam of things King loves. It is a story of a boy and his dog, a quest tale, that brushes up against Eerie Comics, Lovecraft and even namechecks some of King’s own work, while feeling like it could almost be kin to his beloved, and iconic Dark Tower series.
Charlie Reade is about to go on a life-changing adventure, but first, there is the setup, and King takes his time with it, building his characters, the situation, and the story at a leisurely pace. He allows the characters and the moments to breathe, building the reality of a world we know around us before plunging us into one that only seems familiar to us from bedtime stories.
Charlie’s past shapes everything he does in the book, and that’s why King takes his time doling out the tale, The first third of the book is grounded, and develops the relationships between Charlie, an old man, Mr. Bowditch, and Bowditch’s elderly dog, Radar.
King has delved into the fantastical before, The Dark Tower, The Talisman and The Eyes of the Dragon, and fans will argue as to how successful he’s been, but this time out, with the leaning towards actual fairy tales, and the conceits that fill them, he excels.
Then there’s the matter of the ending. It has become a bit of a trope that King’s endings are often the weakest part of his books, this time, he sticks the landing, and the whole tale wraps up nicely with not necessarily a happily ever after, but a happy ending that shows how the characters have changed and how this tale will be passed on.
He makes the encounters fascinating, frightening, and undeniably King. There are monstrous creations and reliable allies, and there is a coming-of-age story for Charlie.
Fairy Tale wraps the reader up like a warm blanket on a winter’s eve, even when danger confronts our hero, we know, by nature of the style of the tale, that Charlie will survive. He and the reader will be changed by events, but it will have a happy ending because that is the nature of the modern fairy tale.
But like those classic stories that got sanitized before being told at bedtime, it’s not afraid to get very dark before it ends.
King in a captivating flurry of text has delivered another winner, a unique modern spin on classic stories. Fairy Tale is available now from Simon & Schuster.